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Steinberg touches on the larger events shaping 20th century 'mitteleurope' (including Habsburg Austria and the Deutsches Reich), a political minefield amidst which 'Salzburg' was to become the first festival (outside Bayreuth) since classical Greek times.

Salzburg Festival was born on 22 August 1920 with a performance of Jederman (an allegory of Austria) in the 17th century Domplaz (Cathedral Square).

Concert performances were given in the Felsenreitschule (Summer Riding School) from 1926; and that year, Ariadne auf Naxos was presented. Coincidentally, Toscanini became dissatisfied with the small Stadttheater and insisted the Austrian government build the Festspielhaus (almost immediately modified by Clemens Holzmeister in 1926) to seat 1200. It was first used for opera (Fidelio) in 1927.

More than thirty years later, by wielding similar authority, Karajan demanded the government construct the Grossefestpielhaus, opened in 1960. In doing so, we're told, he saved the festival from bankruptcy.

The Residenz Palace (Fürsterzbischöfliche Residenz), formerly the Archbishop's dwelling, is also used for concert performances.

Before the war, Salzburg enshrined the power of the intellectual elite; later -- through the Karajan years -- it was frequented by the international 'jetset' and assorted 'glitterati'. Now, however, the widest music-loving public flock to Salzburg Festival. Said one commentator, 'From the death of Karajan fewer private planes were arriving.'

In 2006 the festival netted 168 million euros; the tax revenues were 27 million euros. Some 238,000 tickets sold and 94% of the seats were occupied. Globally the Mozart [watch and listen -- chapter 20, 1:46:05-1:46:29] brand (beer, sausages, chocolate, mugs, clocks, pennants et al) sells 100 million items.

Consequently Salzburg's income per capita is the highest in Austria.

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Copyright © 2 August 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller